Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘physical sciences retractions’ Category

Leibniz Prize belatedly awarded to scientist cleared of misconduct

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Just before the March ceremony to bestow the coveted Leibniz Prize, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) received some disturbing allegations. An anonymous tipster accused one of the 10 scientists slotted to receive the award, materials scientist Britta Nestler, of misconduct. So the DFG held the ceremony on March 15, but suspended Nestler’s award.

Four months later, Nestler now has her Leibniz, along with the €2.5 million in prize money. This week, the DFG — which awards the Leibniz — announced that it had given Nestler her prize on July 4, during its annual meeting, after determining the accusations were without merit.

Secretary General of the DFG and Chair of the Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct Dorothee Dzwonnek said in a statement:

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Written by Alison McCook

July 14th, 2017 at 7:00 am

Nature Chemistry issues its first retraction

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For the first time in its eight-year history, Nature Chemistry has retracted a paper, citing “data integrity issues.”

The 2010 paper, which explored how various iron-based molecules interact with water and ethanol, was withdrawn after the authors uncovered possible duplication in two images.

According to the retraction notice, the authors could not provide the raw data to confirm their findings and could not reproduce the figures because the experimental set-up had been dismantled. The authors subsequently requested the paper be retracted because the issues undermined “our full confidence in the integrity of the study.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Charge transfer to solvent identified using dark channel fluorescence-yield L-edge spectroscopy”: Read the rest of this entry »

Author “shocked” after top math journal retracts paper

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One of the world’s most prestigious mathematics journals has issued what appears to be its first retraction.

The Annals of Mathematics recently withdrew a 2001 paper exploring the properties of certain symmetrical spaces.

What prompted this retraction? And why did it occur 16 years after the paper was published? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

July 12th, 2017 at 8:00 am

NY court: Cornell faces being held in contempt after denying physics professor tenure (twice)

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Mukund Vengalattore

Cornell University and a high-powered dean at the school face being held in contempt of court in a case stemming from their decision to deny tenure to a physics professor.

Assistant professor Mukund Vengalattore told Retraction Watch he believes the school and the dean are violating a judge’s order instructing them to completely redo his tenure review process. Neither the university nor the dean has done any of the things the judge asked them to do, and even suspended his paycheck for the first two weeks of June, he said.

In 2014 Gretchen Ritter, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, denied Vengalattore tenure, citing a weak publication record, an inability to accept advice from colleagues, and a poor group dynamic fostered in his lab [Exhibit C in this court document]. But on appeal, a faculty panel found that the review process had been affected by sexual misconduct allegations from a former graduate student.  Vengalattore told Retraction Watch the allegations were “completely false.”

However, last year, Ritter again denied Vengalattore tenure, a decision backed by Cornell’s provost, Michael Kotlikoff. As first reported by Inside Higher Ed in May, Vengalattore then took Cornell and Ritter to court. Judge Richard Rich ruled on that case in November, finding that the alleged misconduct “tainted” the process and that the school had deviated from its established procedures in a “necessary” but “secretive” way, denying Vengalattore due process:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

June 27th, 2017 at 1:49 pm

“Searching our souls”: Authors retract paper after researcher admits to fabricating data

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Researchers at a prominent Japanese university have retracted a 2016 paper in a chemistry journal after the first author admitted to scientific misconduct.

According to the notice, Kyushu University investigated and verified that the first author had committed scientific misconduct.

We requested a copy of the misconduct report, which revealed that the researcher, Prasenjit Mahato, a postdoctoral fellow at Kyushu University who is no longer affiliated with the university, “admitted to falsifying research” in two papers on which he was first author: a highly cited 2015 paper in Nature Materials, which was retracted in 2016, as well as the 2016 paper in Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), retracted earlier this month. The university investigated and confirmed misconduct in both papers.

We covered the Nature Materials retraction last year, but at the time, the paper’s corresponding author, Nobuo Kimizuka, only told us that the “matter has been under investigation by the formal investigation panel of our University.”

According to the five-page misconduct report — which we translated from Japanese using One Hour Translation and is also available in Japanese on the university’s website — in July 2016, a member of the lab (“Faculty Member B”) began to suspect a problem after he reviewed the data with Mahato (“the defendant”): Read the rest of this entry »

No new math: Journal pulls math paper with “already known” results

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A mathematics journal has withdrawn a paper after discovering that the results were not new.

The paper, published online in March in Communications in Algebra, explored the properties of group rings, a discipline of algebra. According to editor-in-chief of the journal, Jason Bell, author Francis E. A. Johnson, a professor of mathematics at the University College London, devised a property associated with group rings, and defined it using the term “weakly finite.” But, at the time, Johnson was not aware that other experts had already defined the same property, using the term “stably finite.”

Bell, a professor of mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, and Lance Small, the journal’s other editor-in-chief, stressed that this issue was “definitely not a matter of plagiarism.” Bell and Small told us in a joint statement that “it was ultimately no one’s fault—it is just one of these things that can happen occasionally in mathematics research.” But given the overlap, the editors thought it best to withdraw the paper, they said: Read the rest of this entry »

Rutgers prof announces retraction on his blog

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A Rutgers computer scientist is retracting conference proceedings via an unusual channel: his personal blog.

On April 7, Anand Sarwate wrote that he was retracting a mathematical proof from the proceedings from the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP), after discovering errors that invalidated the result.

He explains in the blog post why the mistake occurred:

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A retraction gets retracted — but the first author’s contract is still terminated

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After issuing a retraction notice May 30 for a biomedical engineering paper, the journal has since pulled the notice, citing “a potential problem.”

After doing some digging, we’ve learned more about the “potential problem.”

Apparently, the retraction was requested by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. NTU has been investigating the first author for months, after it received an allegation about an unrelated manuscript. As a result, NTU terminated first author Hamidreza Namazi‘s contract as a research fellow earlier this year.

As part of the investigation, NTU began to look at Namazi’s other papers, and discovered several with potential problems — including this one, which NTU believes did not receive proper ethical approvals. So it contacted the journal to raise its concerns.

Namazi, however, told us that he and his colleague obtained approval from another organization, but didn’t make that clear in the paper — so the journal has retracted its retraction notice while it investigates Namazi’s claim.

In place of the original retraction notice, a notice now reads:

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Paper with duplicated image “sequentially builds” on neuroscience work, authors argue

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A neurochemistry journal has retracted a paper from a group in China over a duplicated image.

According to the notice, the authors used the same image in the two papers to represent different experimental conditions. The only distinguishing feature between the images: “apparent brightness changes.”

The authors defended their actions, explaining that the research published in Journal of Neurochemistry “sequentially builds” on their previous study in Journal of Neuroinflammation, which they mention in the 2015 paper’s discussion. In the notice, the authors were quoted saying:  Read the rest of this entry »

Authors retract much-debated blockchain paper from F1000

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The authors of a popular — and heavily debated — F1000Research paper proposing a method to prevent scientific misconduct have decided to retract it.

The paper was initially criticized for allegedly plagiarizing from a graduate student’s blog — and revised to try to “rectify the overlap.” But according to F1000, it is now being retracted after an additional expert identified problems with the methodology.

Today, F1000 added this editorial note to the paper:

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Written by Alison McCook

May 24th, 2017 at 12:35 pm